States of Grace
Artist: Graham Ovenden
Date of Action: August 2021
Location: Great Britain
Confronting Bodies: The Tate and Truro Crown Court
Description of Artwork: States of Grace depicts nude and semi-nude portraits of young girls.
The Incident: Graham Ovenden's art has been investigated as possible child pornography by US and UK authorities on a number of occasions but he has received continued support from leading figures in the art world throughout the investigations.
Results of Incident: In March 2013, Ovenden went on trial at Truro Crown Court with nine charges of indecency with a child and indecent assault on victims aged between six and 14. He denied the claims. On 2 April, Ovenden was found guilty of six charges of indecency with a child and one charge of indecent assault against a child. The charges came from adults who claimed they had been abused by Ovenden as children. Some of them involved claims that he abused children while they were posing for his pictures. The abuse charges related to incidents between 1972 and 1985. Ovenden was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
In April 2013, Ovenden was found guilty of six charges of indecency with a child and one charge of indecent assault against a child. Following his conviction, the Tate gallery removed images of his work from its online gallery, and also removed access to his work in its galleries. On 9 October 2013 the Appeal Court increased his sentence to an immediate prison term of 27 months.
While some of the figures who have supported Ovenden continue to affirm the legitimacy of his art, the Tate has not reversed its action.
Graham Ovenden: Art arguments provide no mitigation in abuse case 2 April 2013 Artist Graham Ovenden guilty of indecency charges 2 April 2013 Graham Ovenden child sex abuse trial: Nakedness 'no shame' 21 March 2013 Graham Ovenden sex abuse trial: Mother says 'I was coward' 12 March 2013 Artist Graham Ovenden accused of being paedophile 11 March 2013